The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) is delighted that Budget 2018 had given recognition to tourism’s potential to generate wealth for the country.
MATTA President Datuk Tan Kok Liang said the association is delighted that 2020 was declared as the next Visit Malaysia Year, as MATTA had targeted for 36 million visitors and RM168 billion tourism receipts by 2020.
Major events such as the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) and World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT) have been lined up in conjunction with VMY 2020.
Tan said MATTA had proposed for funding for capacity building in the travel sector and RM2 billion was allocated to SMEs for training programmes, grants and soft loans under SME Corp.
“The allocation of RM500 million on infrastructure development will strengthen rural tourism and homestay, including eco-tourism facilities like jetties, toilets and signage.
“This is a good challenge for the tourism industry to be private sector driven. Improving fleet modernisation, infrastructure development in resorts, lodges, tour products and digital marketing", he said in a statement today.
He added that MATTA had also asked for incentives currently given to inbound and domestic tour operators be continued and conditions eased to help new and small players, as many are Bumiputera companies.
“We are grateful that our proposal has been granted.”
Tan said with the eVisa regional hub expansion, Malaysia is certain to attract more visitors from countries with access to this facility.
He adds that the upgrading of international airports in Penang and Langkawi, and domestic airports at Kota Baru, Mukah and Sandakan will ensure greater comfort and convenience to air travellers.
“As safety and security are paramount, allocating RM250 million to ESSCOM is essential for the safety and security of tourism and economic activities in the East Coast of Sabah, which is currently experiencing an influx of China tourists, especially to Semporna.”
Tan said with the completion of the West Coast Expressway linking Banting to Taiping and making Lumut within 90 minutes of Kuala Lumpur, Pangkor's tourism is set for expansion and will now boom with duty free status like Langkawi and Labuan.
“But developments must be properly planned and controlled, and pristine parts of the island maintained for tourism to be sustainable, as the island is much smaller than Langkawi or Penang. It is a haven for eco-tourism.”